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November went out with a roar after six central banks joined forces to provide cheaper access to U.S. dollars in a robust response to the eurozone crisis that is threatening to capsize the world's economy.

While the immediate reaction was a 4.2% rally in the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU), Wall Street was left wondering whether the pre-emptive response can contain the crisis, or if it is instead a sign that a eurozone meltdown has already begun.

The world will be watching to see what Europe will do, if anything, to address the fundamental issues behind the debt crisis. Action is still needed to support bank funding and to enforce discipline and fiscal rules, analysts say.

For investors seeking reliable clues about what's likely to work in this market, StockScouter's Benchmark Portfolio for December is an ideal place to launch investment research.

The 50-stock portfolio was created using StockScouter, MSN Money's stock-picking tool. Each month, StockScouter generates a list of 50 stocks whose business fundamentals, price behavior, valuation and stock-ownership characteristics appear to predict a rising price in the coming weeks, based on how those factors have influenced stock prices in the past.

Here are StockScouter's best investment ideas for December.

StockScouter Benchmark Portfolio for December
Company Sector Nov. 30 close Scouter score
Pioneer Southwest Energy Partners (PSE) Oil and natural gas $30.41 10
Rex Energy (REXX) Oil and natural gas $16.15 9
Vanguard Natural Resources (VNR) Oil and natural gas $26.46 10
Global Partners (GLP) Petroleum products $20.69 8
InfoSpace (INSP) Internet search $9.64 8
Encore Energy Partners (ENP) Oil and natural gas $20.05 10
Evolution Petroleum (EPM) Oil and natural gas $7.30 8
ECA Marcellus Trust I (ECT) Natural gas $25.15 8
Innophos (IPHS) Specialty phosphates $49.25 9
Heico (HEI) Aerospace and defense $59.34 8
Mobile Mini (MINI) Rental storage $18.03 9
AFC Enterprises (AFCE) Quick-service restaurants $15.70 9
XO Group (XOXO) Specialty retail $7.37 7
Neutral Tandem (TNDM) Wireless communications $10.81 8
Interval Leisure Group (IILG) Travel and leisure $14.01 8
China Digital TV (STV) Application software $3.63 8
Hornbeck Offshore Services (HOS) Offshore energy services $33.74 8
Buckeye Technologies (BKI) Specialty products $30.98 8
Thompson Creek Metals (TC) Mining $6.99 8
Orbcomm (ORBC) Communication services $3.30 8
Colfax (CFX) Industrial machinery $29.31 8
Whiting USA Trust I (WHX) Oil and natural gas $17.30 8
Dun & Bradstreet (DNB) Business information $69.87 10
Capstead Mortgage (CMO) Real estate investments $12.48 10
Williams Partners (WPZ) Natural gas $58.06 9
Main Street Capital (MAIN) Investments $19.51 10
Community Trust Bancorp (CTBI) Banking $28.19 10
Community Trust Bancorp (CTBI) Credit services $9.78 10
PennyMac Mortgage Investment Trust (PMT) Residential real estate $16.12 10
Waters (WAT) Medical instruments $80.00 10
Corrections Corp. of America (CXW) Prisons $21.00 10
Legacy Reserves (LGCY) Oil and natural gas $26.82 10
CubeSmart (CUBE) Rental storage $9.97 10
Chesapeake Lodging Trust (CHSP) Hotels $15.90 10
Flowserve (FLS) Flow controls $102.77 10
Energen (EGN) Oil and natural gas $50.72 10
Wyndham Worldwide (WYN) Lodging $35.45 10
Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) Restaurants $321.56 10
NewMarket (NEU) Specialty chemicals $197.89 10
Bally Technologies (BYI) Application software $38.34 10
Atlas Pipeline Partners (APL) Natural gas $34.80 10
OSI Systems (OSIS) Electronic components $47.81 9
Core Laboratories (CLB) Oil-field services $116.05 10
Cedar Fair (FUN) Amusement parks $23.09 10
Taser International (TASR) Electronic controls $6.02 10
Pebblebrook Hotel Trust (PEB) Hotels $18.52 10
SPS Commerce (SPSC) Business services $23.45 10
Quaker Chemical (KWR) Specialty chemicals $38.91 9
Nara Bancorp (NARA) Banking $9.37 9
Halozyme Therapeutics (HALO) Biotechnology $9.48 9

Investment research firm Gradient Analytics uses StockScouter to create daily and monthly stock lists. Writer Jon Markman, at the time a columnist for MSN Money, collaborated with the company to devise strategies for putting the tool to work.

One of Markman's strategies involved investing an equal amount of money in each of the stocks in the computer-generated portfolio, selling them a month later, then beginning the process again. For investors who prefer to handle fewer stocks, Markman recommended using the strategy with just the top 10 stocks on the list.

An investor who followed Markman's 10-stock strategy since it was launched in January 2001 would have realized a gain of 693% through Oct. 31 of this year, according to Gradient Analytics, and had an average annual return of 22.2%.

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Over the same period, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) was up 3.5%.

An innovative mix

StockScouter depends on advanced mathematics and software, and an innovative mix of measurements and historical testing to forecast the short- and long-term outlook for all U.S. companies that have traded on the major exchanges for at least the past six months.

The analytical tools score stocks on fundamental, valuation, technical and ownership components.

This score is combined with each company's StockScouter rating to come up with the list in the chart above. Only stocks with a final closing price above $3 are eligible for the list.